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Feeling the draft: Cornerbacks

01.13.10 at 7:01 am ET
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No use sitting around wondering what could have been. The end of the Patriots’€™ season only means one thing: time to start looking to late April. WEEI.com will take you through the Patriots depth charts one position at a time and tip you off to which players could be donning Patriots garb come draft day.

CORNERBACK

State of the position: Leigh Bodden (free agent), Shawn Springs (2 years remaining), Terrence Wheatley (2 years remaining), Jonathan Wilhite (2 years remaining), Darius Butler (3 years remaining).

Potential free agents of note: Dunta Robinson, Richard Marshall, Carlos Rodgers

CORNERS IN THE DRAFT TO KEEP AN EYE ON:

Joe Haden: Junior, Florida, 5-foot-11, 190 pounds

2009 Stats: 57 tackles, FF, 4 INT

What he brings: Nose for the ball, athleticism

Where the Patriots could get him: Top 10 (trade)

If Haden is the Patriots’€™ guy, they can easily get him ‘€” it’€™s just a matter of what they’€™re willing to give up to move into the top 10. They have the ammunition in the form of three second-rounders and the Raiders’€™ 2011 first-rounder. Haden is an absolute ball-hawk who, unlike Asante Samuel in his first two professional seasons, has the hands now. The Patriots’€™ 18 interceptions put them in a tie for 11th in the league, but five of those interceptions may be leaving (Bodden) and another came from a game of 500 between Kyle Orton and Randy Moss. Butler showed enough promise in his rookie season to be a starter on one side should Bodden leave, but adding Haden to the mix would give the Patriots a shutdown corner that they have been missing since the departure of Samuel.

Patrick Robinson: Senior, Florida State, 5-foot-11, 194 pounds

2009 Stats: 46 tackles, FF, 0 INT

What he brings: Darius Butler 2.0

Where the Patriots could get him: No. 22

The jury is still out on Robinson. The former Seminole will almost definitely be on the board when pick No. 22 rolls around, but do the Patriots need another sub-six-foot soft-hitting cover corner that lacks the ball skills of a Haden? Robinson’€™s measurables are far too similar to those of Butler, so it would seem illogical to add the same player two years in a row.

Perrish Cox: Senior, Oklahoma State, 6-foot-0, 195 pounds

2009 stats: 36 tackles, 0 FF, 4 INT

What he brings: Size, athleticism, outstanding return capabilities

Where the Patriots could get him: Second round

Cox is the one to keep an eye on. Talent-wise, he is off the charts and he would add size that the Patriots’€™ young corners (notably the 5-9 Wheatley) lack. He’€™s a better tackler than he gets credit for and is a threat to take any kickoff to the house. The Patriots have greater needs than cornerback, so should Cox stay out of the first round (a pretty big gamble at this point considering that a good workout could lead to a Rodgers-Cromartie-like rise) they could address their needs at linebacker in the first and land Cox in the second. Character issues are what could keep Cox from going higher, as he was arrested for a non-violent crime and suspended for the Cotton Bowl in the span of just a few months. The Patriots didn’€™t let serious character issues stop them from taking Brandon Meriweather with the 24th pick in 2007, so should driving with a suspended license really scare them away?

Donovan Warren: Junior, Michigan, 6-foot-0, 187 pounds

2009 stats: 66 tackles, 0 FF, 4 INT

What he brings: Size, athleticism

Where the Patriots could get him: Second round

Warren could be a nice value pick with the second or third of the Patriots’€™ three second-rounders. Many have questioned his decision to declare for the draft because he hasn’€™t fully matured as a player, but considering that he never had a defensive coordinator for more than one season at Michigan, he has to be used to learning by now. With Bodden a free agent, Springs is the only corner on the roster taller than 5-11, so if Cox proves to be too big a risk, the secondary has to add size somehow.

Other corners to keep an eye on:

Javier Arenas: Senior, Alabama, 5-9, 195 pounds (2nd round projection). Shorter than listed but, excellent in the return game.
Brandon Ghee: Senior, Wake Forest, 6-0, 191 pounds (3-4). Patriots have been suckers for hard-hitting DBs.
Brian Jackson: Senior, Oklahoma, 6-1, 202 pounds. (4-6). Combination of size and speed worth a late-round flier.

Read More: 2010 NFL Draft,
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